Solar vs Nuclear Power: Which Is the Better Energy Source?

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It’s a simple fact today: our world is heavily reliant on fossil fuels and it is terrible for the environment. Not only do they need a lot of effort to mine out, spew harmful chemicals into the air during use, and also end up producing lots of waste.

For this reason, we are seeking cleaner energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric and nuclear power. Among these, nuclear power has a lot of capability to produce large amounts of energy through a single source, while renewables like solar power can produce low amounts of energy with minimal costs.

So when it comes to solar vs nuclear power, which one is better? Let’s find out more about each type of power and compare their advantages to see which one’s better for the environment.

Comparing Solar vs Nuclear Power

As the name implies, solar power gathers energy from the sun and convert it into usable electricity by using technologies such as solar photovoltaics, solar heating, and artificial photosynthesis. This type of clean energy sounds great comes with a host of benefits. However, it also has its caveats.

Pros of Solar Power

While exploring fossil fuels, you must put manpower and money into locating, drilling, and mining the resources. As you can imagine, this is a huge drain on our finite resources. The biggest advantage of solar power is that it reduces your carbon footprint. By taking something that’s already being generated and harvesting it, you’re putting significantly less stress on the planet.

Solar power is also relatively easy and quick to set up. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are nearly 12,000 major solar projects currently operating in the US with more than 160 GW of capacity. Solar power is also quite cost-effective when you’re talking about utility-scale projects. When compared to nuclear power, it only takes a fraction of the investment to produce solar energy.

Cons of Solar Power

Despite being affordable for utility-scale projects, solar power can be quite expensive for residential purposes. This means that it can be out-of-reach for many households to shift from conventional power grid sources to solar. However, residents do have the option to work with a reputable solar company to get the best rates possible.

Further, because the energy harvested depends on the sun being available, you won’t be able to generate energy 24/7, especially if the solar panels are placed in a location with less than ideal weather. This also means that energy generation will be less dependable and stable. While you may get high output one moment, you might get mediocre output another for reasons out of your control.

Pros and Cons of Nuclear Power

Infographic source: The Balance

Nuclear power is the energy produced through atomic reactions that generate heat. The three methods available are: nuclear fission, nuclear decay, and nuclear fusion that are connected to steam turbines to produce electricity. This powerful energy source comes with its own pros and cons.

Pros of Nuclear Power

Like with solar energy, you’ll be able to drastically reduce your carbon footprint by  diverting your energy needs to nuclear power instead of fossil fuels. Nuclear power plants can function at full capacity all the time since all they need is uranium fuel. In this case, it means you’ll get the maximum output of energy for the entire time they consume fuel.

Further, because you don’t need to depend on outside factors such as the amount of sunlight, you can count on nuclear power to be highly reliable. No matter what time of day or year it is, you’ll get a steady output of nuclear energy.

Cons of Nuclear Power

The biggest drawback for nuclear energy is that it takes a long time to build a reactor. This means that if a fast-growing population has an ever-increasing demand for energy, nuclear might not be enough to keep up. For example, consider this: in the last 30 years, there has only been 1 nuclear power plant built to completion. There are 2 other ones under construction, but they’re already over budget and are nowhere near complete.

When compared to solar power, nuclear takes almost 8 times as long to build. Utility-scale solar projects take around 9 months to complete while nuclear projects take 90 months on an average. Not only does nuclear power take longer to build, but it’s also much more expensive. In general, it costs almost 10 times more to build a nuclear power plant than to take on a utility-scale solar project.

Nuclear power is also more dangerous than solar power. While solar power harvests something that comes naturally from the sun, nuclear power plants must use some dangerous chemicals like uranium and plutonium.

If protocols aren’t closely followed, huge disasters can happen. And the waste that comes from a nuclear power plant disaster can take years to take care of, if not decades. Take, for example, the Chernobyl disaster. This disaster caused lots of deaths, had adverse health effects and has taken decades to even get control of.

Needless to say, much care has to be taken when you use nuclear power.

Solar vs Nuclear: Which One’s Better?

In general, when it comes to the debate on solar vs nuclear power, there is no clear consensus since each one draws their own conclusion. If economics is the main criterion, then please check this video to get a clear picture –

However, one thing’s clear: both solar and nuclear power sources are much better for the environment than fossil fuels. If we want to clean up and conserve our beautiful planet, then we should adopt cleaner energy methods and so we at Ecoideaz are siding with solar power for sure!

6 COMMENTS

  1. You are dead wrong about nuclear. Nuclear has historically been the SAFEST means of generating power by watt vs any other tech. This includes TMI, Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc:
    No safe place to dispose of radioactive materials? Do what the Soviets did, just dump it into the sea. They dumped everything from liquid waste, used fuel rods, even whole cores for 40 years right off the sides of ships with no thought to containment. They even lost a few nuclear powered and armed submarines along the way.

  2. We only had 3 new A plants because some in media and anti nuclear groups are terrified of it-. All Atom waste can be safely buried, not dumped at sea= like the Russkis or Aussies!
    Solar panels are useless after 30 years -but have lead and arssenic and many poisons in them and cannot be dumped , buried-or recycled.
    Same for wind power blades. This is just a form of tidal and solar power.)
    Many hate and fear atomic power because of their terror of atomic weapons- But as en energy producer-its been making 50% US electricity since 1955 and about 30% now. Its super clean; its plants live over 50 years-and minimally productive of waste.-
    I say this even though I like solar & wind power for small, home and farm power stations-even NYC could take advantage of Solar-

    • Hi Braun, Normally we dont approve of any comment that is more than 100 words, but i will make an exception since you do have some good points. However, one thing you havent realised is the enormous cost of building a new nuclear power plant! Please check the video in our article to get a realistic picture

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